Several Syrian cities take to the streets again due to the economic deterioration: “Assad, go away, we want to live”

After 12 years of war, the Syrians have returned this week to the streets to demand the departure of Asad and the overthrow of his regime in various cities and towns of the country, especially in the city of Daraa, in southern Syria, where it began the uprising in March 2011. Demonstrations have also taken place in the neighboring city of Al Suwayda, which was not directly involved in the 2011 protests, as well as in other rural areas of Damascus, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and Idlib.

The protesters call for the release of those detained in the regime’s prisons and the implementation of UN resolution 2254, which provides for a political transition as a way out of a solution in the country, where the war and attacks against some regions continue. . They also denounce corruption, the decline in living conditions, inflation and the poor economic situation for the population, which also coincides with the Government’s announcement of new measures perceived as insufficient.

Some villages in Daraa have tried to protest clandestinely for fear of repression by the regime – doing it at night, painting the walls, going out with their faces covered. The graffiti denounce the economic collapse and living conditions and call for the fall of the regime and the departure of foreign forces from Syria. “Go away, we want to live”, “Free Syria; Iran, get out”, read some banners in reference to Bashar Al Asad.

Many protesters are afraid that the security forces “will shoot or arrest them at the security checkpoints,” Mohammad Ossama (not his real name for security reasons), an activist and organizer of protests in the Daraa countryside, told Ossama has several brothers who lost their lives in the war. The man, injured in the foot as a result of a bombing, believes that the protests will continue and have an impact.

Ossama points out that most of the demonstrators in the recent protests are young and the “second generation of the revolution.” The activist denounced that the forces of the regime shelled the city of Nawa with heavy artillery after the outbreak of demonstrations there. The activist believes that the government is fighting the protests by reducing services, such as cutting off electricity.

“The spark of the protests”

A cumulative set of reasons have pushed the inhabitants of the city of Al Suwayda to revolt, but the recent decisions taken by the Assad government to increase the pensions and salaries of public employees by 100% –perceived as insufficient– and At the same time, increasing fuel prices have been “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” the activist Raqia Al-Shaer, a native of Al Suwayda and who participates in these protests, told

“People have come to the conclusion that this regime is mocking us. What is this 100% increase? The salary of a public employee does not exceed 10 dollars a month, which is not enough for two days. That is why this decision was the spark of the uprising, ”he recounts. “Our children starved, were displaced and killed; this regime must not be given a chance, ”he says.

The UN special envoy for Syria, Geir Petersen, has pointed out that in the last three months “a very bad economic situation has gotten even worse”, with the Syrian pound losing 80% of its value. “Prices are skyrocketing out of control for essential goods like food, medicine and food,” he said.

Several areas of northwestern Syria outside the control of the regime have also held demonstrations in support of the mobilizations that began in the south of the country, despite having been attacked by warplanes last week –killing two people. Syria TV has reported that demonstrations have also taken place in the Al Firdous neighborhood of Aleppo, controlled by the Syrian government, and that they have been met with bullets. These areas witnessed a security alert and the deployment of heavy military vehicles.

In Al Suwayda, however, they have had no reaction. That silence is cause for concern, according to Al-Shaer: “We have experiences with this authority responding to this type of protest, either with brutal repression or committing fabricated attacks to convince people of the existence of terrorism and to make them forget their demands. ”.

These protests occur at a time when people in the country are experiencing the worst economic and service crisis. The hours of power outage have increased to 23 hours a day in many areas, as well as the deterioration of other basic services. In addition, the price of the Syrian pound has fallen against the dollar in recent days, which has exceeded 15,000 pounds on the government’s inability to offer solutions despite repeated promises to improve the economic situation.

President Bashar Al-Asad has admitted during an interview on Sky News the country’s economic collapse and the lack of conditions for the return of refugees, in addition to the destruction of infrastructure, while blaming terrorism for the country’s problems.

Al Suwayda breaks his silence

The participation of the Druze-majority Al Suwayda in the widespread protests announcing a general strike, continued demonstrations and publicly demanding the overthrow of the regime is an unusual affair and a notable development in the Syrian context.

Most of the city did not take a clear position on the 2011 uprising and what happened in the country during the war years. Now protesters are marching through its streets who have also burned the photo of Bashar Al-Asad.

“The current situation in Al Suwayda is a popular anger. What we used to see in other cities, we now see in Al Suwayda, with the participation of people of all ages, clerics, women, youth and children of all kinds,” explains activist Raqia Al-Shaer.

Protesters in the city surrounded and stormed local ruling party offices on Wednesday and even partially blocked a highway connecting the province with the country’s capital.

Al-Shaer, 45, is an agricultural engineer who worked in a government department affiliated with the Assad government, but says she was subjected to “arbitrary dismissal” because of her stances against regime policy.

The activist says that her city had a significant impact on the 2011 protests because it prevented its young people from joining the military service in Assad’s army because she says they have a principle: “We do not allow a Syrian to kill his Syrian brother.”

Al-Shaer believes that this position was one of the reasons for the regime’s hatred of his city, which “retaliated by killing many of his sons, such as the assassination of one of the most important sheikhs of the Druze community, Wahid Al Balous Abu Fahd”. Al Balous is a prominent Druze leader and founder of the Men of Dignity Movement. He was assassinated along with other Druze leaders as a result of the attack on his car in September 2015. Subsequently, his son Laith, through a television interview, accused Hezbollah and Iran, allies of Assad.

The United States delegate to the UN Security Council has stated that the cities of Daraa and Al Suwayda are witnessing peaceful protests demanding political changes and compliance with resolution 2254.

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